Loving Molly

Well, here we are. It’s mid February – the snow has melted and we made it through another cold snap, in fact it felt like spring here in the midwest this past weekend! February seems to be that rather long bridge that connects winter to spring.  I’ve noticed the birds singing and even saw my first robin this week on my early morning walk. For most of us, other than Valentine’s Day, there isn’t a whole lot going on in February, and we’re usually grateful that it’s a short month (other than this year, leap year). February became a special month for me fourteen years ago, when we received a new addition to our family.
I love animals, particularly dogs.  I have had one, sometimes two at once, all my adult life, and I think it’s safe to say, dogs will be a part of my foreseeable future.  For those of you who have had these wonderful beings share your life, you know that although you love them all, there is always one that stands out from the rest, that is extra special.  My Australian  Labradoodle Molly was that dog. 
 As I mentioned, the month of February is significant for many because of Valentine’s Day.  It’s the month of love, flowers, and chocolate.  For me, February is special because it’s the month my mom and I picked up our furry little girl at O’Hare International Airport.  It’s also the month that we had to say a final farewell to her, 12 years later.  Named after the Irish folk song Molly Malone, at 10 weeks old, Molly was already quite the traveler, as she made the long journey from Australia to Chicago to join our family.  Shortly after our beloved pug Otto died at the age of 12, my friend and neighbor left a newspaper clipping in my mailbox that described an up and coming breed.  At that time I was still mourning Otto and wasn’t sure I was ready for another dog.  Well, as fate would have it, five months later this beautiful pup was in my mom’s arms, driving home from the airport.  I still remember that drive so vividly.  My mom was holding her smelly little body (it was a long plane ride, after all, from the land “down-under”) wrapped in a soft towel, and every time I looked at her, she was staring at me. I was in love.  The first several days with her were wonderful.  She slept a lot, ate well, loved to be held, and was very docile.  After about a week, her true personality began to emerge. The following are the first words that came to mind when describing Molly:
Mouthy, mouthy, mouthy, (came into my head three times, I swear) crafty, smart, sneaky, selective hearing, stubborn, food thief, beautiful, endless energy, escape artist, amazing ball catcher, amazing frisbee catcher, amazing popcorn catcher, shoe thief, kisser, bed hog, stuffed animal thief…..etc.  Do you see where this is going??
Molly and the girls on our wedding day
I could write an entire book on the shenanigans of Molly Malone.  She found her voice a few days after arriving, and never lost it. She used it so much that she actually became hoarse later in life.  She barked at everything.  If she wanted me off the phone, she barked.  When she wanted to eat, she barked.  If we sang Happy Birthday, she barked.  If we passed a neighbor on our walk and I stopped to talk, she barked until we started walking again.  I saw very quickly that this girl of mine was more than I could handle on my own, and so I sought the help of a trainer.  Molly and I went to school.  After a few weeks, the trainer strongly suggested that Molly be sent to boot camp for two weeks.  They were the most peaceful two weeks……..When it was time to bring her home, I expected Private Molly Malone to be at attention, waiting to obey my commands.  Alas, the trainer handed me her leash and told me, “Good luck with her!” I should have known I was in trouble when I entered the facility, and she was the only one barking.  
The girls playing in the yard
Molly loved playing catch, and could catch anything!
Molly loved people food and found very crafty ways of obtaining it. She was tall like a standard poodle and had very long legs so we couldn’t leave things on the counter.  I wish I had thought to set up a video surveillance camera, because to this day, I don’t know how she was able to get at the dozen donuts that were left out of her reach, or my friend’s birthday cake I baked, a loaf of bread, and the bunch of grapes in the sink (she had to go to the ER and have her stomach pumped after that one). I had only read an article on grape toxicity in dogs two weeks earlier. She even managed to drag a beef tenderloin, in it’s sealed package (thankfully), into the living room, thinking we couldn’t see her under the piano.  So happy my husband caught her before she ripped into it.  I remember being so frustrated with her that I actually picked up the phone and told Molly I was calling Quantas Airlines and buying her a one way ticket back to Australia.  She just sat there and stared at me.  I swear she was thinking “Go ahead, I dare you”. Our  family still laughs because the two words we always said to her were, “Quiet Molly!”  I miss saying that…
 One of Molly’s quieter moments
Although Molly remained stubborn and mouthy, there was a maturity that finally occurred, and we fell into a routine and way of life that, for the most part, worked. She traveled with us and loved taking rides to Dairy Queen in the summer.  For all the naughtiness, there was a sweet side that loved to give kisses, and snuggle up when one of us was laying in bed, or reading a book.  If I was sick, she always stayed close to me. I loved her, and I know in her own Molly way, she loved me.  When Molly was eleven, we adopted a five year old labradoodle named Sawyer, who needed a family.  To this day, I still can’t believe I did that.  Molly was old and having health issues and I don’t know why I thought another dog was a good idea, especially a young male.  Sawyer is the opposite of Molly.  He is quiet, well behaved, sweet, listens (most of the time), and is a total lover. In fact, if we had gotten him as a puppy, we would have named him Romeo. We love, love, love him. Molly informed him at their first meeting that she was in charge, and he respected that.  He loved to lay next to her, and she allowed it. We even caught her giving him occasional kisses.
Molly and Sawyer after a long walk
Ready for Santa
Molly chilling on Nicole’s bed
  I’m not going to go into the details of her last days with us. If you’ve ever loved a dog, you know.  Sawyer came into our life when he did because he was meant to be with us.  I was tapped on the shoulder when I saw that he needed a family, and I listened, just like I did when I read that newspaper clipping so many years ago.  We would have had a much harder time losing Molly if he wasn’t here to give us comfort.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to listen to those taps.  I miss my sweet girl, I will always miss her. Before saying goodbye, I whispered into her ear that I loved her, and thanked her for every single moment we had together. We had a very interesting journey together and she taught me so much, especially patience. I think dogs do that.  Plus they are always  happy to see us and are so forgiving of our mistakes.  
 Molly Malone
Every morning Sawyer and I walk the same route I walked with Molly. I swear, sometimes I hear her tags jingling behind us as we walk on the path, and that gives me comfort.  I carry her in my heart.  We will never forget our Molly Malone.
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